24th January 2022 heralded the start of this much anticipated yearlong festival to celebrate 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. Throughout 2021, the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership has been rallying the troops to bring together a festival which celebrates 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
The festival features a diverse rolling programme of events and activities including a large scale contemporary artwork, a Japanese manga series, a bunting challenge, various exhibitions, a Roman themed city of light and travelling Saturnalia celebrations, with plenty more to be revealed as the year goes on.
Cake played a large part in the opening proceedings as it was also the birthday of Emperor Hadrian. In the weeks leading up to the launch a challenge was set across social media to ‘Bake a cake for Hadrian’ with pictures of bakes being sent in from all over the UK.
On the eve of the festival Solway Coast Business Group presented Solway Coast: Stories from 1900, a special opening event with a collection of live performances, talks, and videos to showcase snippets from 1900 years of history.
It was only fitting that the opening of the festival started with merriment so throughout the day there were various opportunities to get involved and celebrate. First up was a birthday brunch at Great North Museum in Newcastle where key stakeholders, activity organisers and partners gathered to mark the start of a memorable year and where a 1.5-meter-long edible replica of a section of Hadrian’s Wall took centre stage. The cake creation, baked and designed by Sticky Sponge Cake Studio served up over 100 pieces of cake and has featured on TV in local papers and National publication Current Archaeology.
Anyone wanting to experience a HW1900 festival activity that day could also catch Obscurum – Lux a new exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort that shows a modern interpretation of the importance of light and colour in the Roman world or join Catherine Jarvis for a historic guided tour at Birdoswald Fort looking at the history of the Fort from Pre-Roman times and beyond. (more details on the website)
Later that day The Friends of Muncaster Castle celebrated the opening of HW1900 when the Emperor Hadrian himself sailed in from Rome to the Ravenglass Estuary and enjoyed a bubble bath within the ancient Roman bathhouse. The bathhouse at Ravenglass is one of the tallest free standing Roman structures in northern England and sits at the start of the Hadrianic Frontier.
In the evening Anna Gray of Discover Lakeland Guided Tours was offering virtual tours covering the Cumbrian section of Hadrian’s Wall between Bowness-on-Solway and Gilsland. (there are further opportunities to experience this – more details on the website)
To finish off, HW1900 activity and festival organisers had a virtual zoom party complete with birthday themed back drops , party hats and of course more cake! Attendees also judged the Bake a Cake for Hadrian entries with Helen from Northumberland winning the popular vote, Helen used her famous gluten and dairy free recipes to make the Wall themed cake .
Jane, Lady Gibson, Chair of Hadrian’s Wall Partnership said:
“The response to the festival has been fantastic! Since 15th December 2021 when we announced the festival highlights, we have been reaching audiences all over the UK and from across the world. This is just the start of a wonderful year and if you would like to get involved it’s not too late simply visit the website and take it from there.”
The festival has achieved some great publicity attracting both national and regional coverage. Including; The Chronicle, Hexham.tv, The Times, The Journal, Hexham Courant, Radio 4, Guardian, The Daily Express, The Telegraph and BBC News online.
To mark the start of the HW1900 both ITV Tyne Tees and BBC Look North featured the festival on their evening bulletins and the interest continues to mount.
The new festival website has attracted 22,000 unique visits since the December the 15th Launch and has around 65 events and activities listed with another 200 in the pipeline and many more to continue throughout the festival year. The momentum is building and new events and activities are signing up every day as is the interest from visitors and media outlets around the world.
We look forward to celebrating with you throughout the year!
Individuals, groups, venues and organisations along the length of the wall are being encouraged to get involved and be part of this incredible year by
Visiting https://1900.hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/ and submitting their own activities to the programme!
The HW1900 Festival programme to date is available to view at https://1900.hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/
We have a branding toolkit available for partners and activity organisers. For all branding request please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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